Day and night, they roam the Earth, scratching and clawing, searching for every advantage, prepared to strike at a moment's notice.
Wild animals? Nah. We're talking about coaches. When New York Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripped Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll on the sideline during a 10-6 Dolphins victory Sunday, it wasn't simply a display of egregiously-poor sportsmanship -- it was a reminder that if there's a coach in the immediate vicinity, it's wise to keep one's head on a well-oiled swivel. To wit:
Incident: With his team trailing 1-0 during a 2009 Brazilian professional soccer match, Santilli: (a) walked onto the pitch to remove an extra ball; (b) shoulder-charged an opposing player to the ground on his way back to the bench; (c) punched the referee, who subsequently ejected him, in the face; (d) professed his longtime admiration for the police station scene in "The Terminator." OK, we made up D, but the other three are true.
Lesson: If the other team's coach barges into you, flop like you've never flopped before.
Incident: When Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman ended a potential game-winning drive with an interception of Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter in the waning moments of the 1978 Gator Bowl, Buckeyes coach Hayes was so incensed he punched Bauman on the sideline. Hayes, a left-hander, claimed, "If I had meant to hit him, I would have thrown a left." Bauman said Hayes later called him but did not apologize.
Lesson: Helmets aren't just for on-field protection.
Incident: During the 2003 American League Championship Series, 72-year-old New York Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer charged Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who famously parried Zimmer's head-first bull rush by throwing the septuagenarian to the ground.
Lesson: Old coaches shaped like human pony kegs are mostly harmless.
Incident: After the New York Jets sacked Houston quarterback Cody Carlson during a 1994 game, Oilers defensive coordinator Ryan shared unkind words with offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride before throwing a punch at Gilbride. According to reports, the two had a season-long feud. Former Ryan co-worker Wade Phillips noted, "[Ryan] has slugged people on the sideline before. Assistant coaches who were next to him got it. I was always up in the press box with the headset on, so I didn't."
Lesson: On second thought, old coaches shaped like human pony kegs are not mostly harmless, unless you're sitting in the press box.
Lou Piniella and Bobby Knight
Incidents: Arguing a 1990 baserunning call, Cincinnati Reds manager Piniella threw first base not once but twice. Ticked off over unfavorable calls during a 1985 Big Ten basketball game against Purdue, Indiana coach Knight tossed a folding chair onto the court.
Lesson: Being an inanimate object is no guarantee of safety.
Did we overlook your favorite coaching meltdown on the field of play? Post it to the comments section below.